Tesco Price Promise

Sainsbury’s Mike Coupe has hit out at Tesco’s Price Promise scheme

Sainsbury’s has slammed Tesco’s Price Promise, claiming that the scheme does not make fair comparisons between own-label lines.

In a hard-hitting blog on the retailer’s website entitled ‘Customers expect fair comparisons’, Sainsbury’s commercial director Mike Coupe wrote yesterday: “The Tesco Price Promise claims to be a fair comparison which makes sense to shoppers. Unfortunately it is anything but.

“By failing to compare own brands fairly it is taking power away from customers to make accurate and informed choices about the food they put in their baskets. Worse, it undermines their ability to make a choice based on the values they believe in.”

Using the example of Sainsbury’s Basics Ham and Tesco Everyday Value Ham, Coupe said: “Well, they’re priced the same but our pork is British and Tesco’s is sourced from somewhere in the EU. They’re not the same product. The idea that they are is really rather odd – not least since Tesco boss Philip Clarke recently told the National Farmers’ Union ‘customers say they are concerned about the provenance of their meat, and that they want to buy British’.”

“By failing to compare own brands fairly it is taking power away from customers to make accurate and informed choices about the food they put in their baskets”

Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s

And on Sainsbury’s Basics Tea Bags and Tesco Everyday Value Tea Bags, he added: “Again, they’re priced the same, but our teabags are Fairtrade, and Tesco’s are not. This means that for our Basics Tea a minimum tea price is guaranteed for farmers at origin and we pay a social premium to support local communities in the established tea-growing countries in Africa. Tesco Value Tea does not.

“Or to put it another way, would anyone think it was fair to pass off a product as Fairtrade when it was not? I don’t believe customers would think so.”

Coupe also revealed Sainsbury’s, which has made a formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about the ad, had contacted Tesco on the matter.

“When we originally challenged Tesco on its ‘Price Promise’ advert earlier this year Tesco’s marketing director David Wood wrote: ‘Although ethical considerations may play a minor part in the customer’s considerations, we do not believe that this would be key to a customer’s transactional decision-making process, particularly in relation to these value products’,” Coupe said.

“In other words, Tesco is saying that customers are not troubled by ethical considerations, especially for more affordable products.”

Coupe added: “Tesco recently said it wants to ‘make what matters better, together’. Customers might be forgiven for thinking it could start with a bit more openness in its ‘Price Promise,’ making clear that its starting point is that ethical sourcing and provenance are not ‘key’ to customers.

“We have always believed that our values make us different, regardless of whether it’s a Basics or a Taste The Difference product, as customers trust us to do the right thing. We are proud to be the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade products. We’re also the UK’s leading retailer of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) fish and RSPCA Freedom Food products and we don’t think it’s good enough to claim, as Tesco does, to ‘choose not to’ pay the licence fee for accreditation.”